Sexism, feminism and medicalism: a decade review of literature on gender and illness



Abstract Do we really have a dependent variable in our study of the sex differences in illness and sex differences in the explanations for illness? The purpose of this paper, which reviews the literature in this area over the past decade, is to argue that because of both conceptual and methodological difficulties in the definition of health/illness, there are serious problems in the available analyses to date. Confusions between medical and lay definitions, mental and physical illness, illness per se and illness behaviour are among the issues raised with respect to the first issue: conceptual and definitional incommensurability. Proxy respondents, distinctions between males and females in illness experience, and improper rate calculation are among the issues discussed in the section concerning methodology.